Friday, January 11, 2019

Hamburger Soup

 My Dad is known to make the best soup.  I wish I could get his recipes but he doesn't use any, he just adds a little this and a little that and it always turns out so good.  I, on the other hand, need a recipe.  I also need to measure everything, otherwise, recipes just don't turn out for me.  I've made this soup a few times and haven't changed a thing.   It's not my Dads soup but it's delicious.  It's packed full of veggies and it's flavorful.  
It takes a while to prep everything but once the meat is browned it all goes into the pot to cook.

2 lbs. ground beef (chuck)
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
1 cup sliced carrots (2 medium)
1 cup sliced zucchini (1 small)
1 cup chopped cabbage 
2 small potatoes, diced (peel if desired) (I like to use Yukon gold or new red potatoes)
1 15-oz. can petite diced tomatoes
6 cups beef broth (Have extra broth on hand to thin out soup if needed) 
1/3 cup pearl barley
1/4 tsp. garlic powder 
1 1/2 tsp. salt, to taste
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. rubbed sage
1 1/2 tsp. Penzey's Old World Seasoning (optional)
In a large stockpot, brown the ground chuck, stirring frequently to break it up, about 10 minutes. Drain well. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour or until the vegetables have softened.
*The leftovers will need some extra broth as it's gets soaked up by the barley.

Serves: 12
Soup can be easily halved if you only need 6 servings.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

My favorite Granola

I have to update my go-to granola recipe as I've made a couple of changes by adding more nuts and coconut.  This is one recipe that when we finish a batch I make another.  We love this granola, it's loaded with nuts and coconut, crunchy and has a touch of maple flavor.  I adapted the recipe from the blog Sally's Baking Addiction.  Check it out, her food photography makes you want to make every one of her recipes.

My favorite way to eat this granola is mixed into my favorite yogurt, Noosa.  It's thick and perfectly sweet with yummy flavors like mango, peach, blueberry, strawberry rhubarb, and coconut to name a few.  It's pricey compared to other yogurt brands but it's so worth it.  It's larger in size, 8oz so it keeps me full until lunch.

Combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, coconut oil, cinnamon, and salt.
Add the oatmeal and nuts, then gently fold in the coconut chips
Spread onto baking sheet and bake 30-40 minutes until golden brown.


  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 1/4 cups nuts, chopped coarsely (any combo that you like) pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut  chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, melted coconut oil, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Add the oats and nuts: stir until all the oats are evenly coated.  Fold in the coconut so not to break up the fragile coconut chips.
  4. Spread onto baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes (until the moisture is gone and granola is golden brown), stirring every 10 minutes. Watch carefully at the end, not to over bake. 
  5. Allow to cool completely and enjoy!


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Homemade Croutons

I was never a crouton lover until I started making them at home.  Homemade croutons are the easiest thing to make and so much better than store bought.  No bread goes to waste as I make these golden, crunchy nuggets for our daily salads.  Now that fall weather is here I can't wait to make some tomato soup for these croutons!

Today I used sourdough but I use whatever bread I have.  

 Here's my basic recipe but you can get creative with different seasoning.  Also, if you are using more or less cubed bread, the ratio of butter/bread is about 1/2 tablespoon melted butter to 1 cup bread cubes.  Day old bread will need a little more melted butter.


8 cups cubed bread (fresh or day old)
4-6 tablespoons melted butter (use more for day old)
1/4  teaspoon garlic salt 


1. Preheat over to 300 degrees.  2. Spread bread cubes on a cookie sheet in a single layer.
3. Drizzle melted butter over and sprinkle garlic salt, toss lightly and again spread cubes in a single layer.
4.  Bake, stirring croutons every 10 minutes, for a total of 30-40* minutes until they are golden and crispy.
5. Cool and store croutons in an air­tight container or ziplock bag.  Will store for about 2 weeks.

Notes:  *Baking time will vary depending on the type of bread. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Ultimate Dinner Party

Saturday evening Kevin and I along with our friends Tony and Margaret hosted a dinner at my house.  It wasn't an ordinary dinner party where I'm usually slaving in the kitchen, making a huge mess and stressing to get everything done before the guest arrive.  No, this was so different and wonderful!  Chef Mark and Brian of Vignette (dining club) came to my house to prepare a 5-course dining experience for 8.  How this all came to be was through a fundraiser,  Stand Up and Sing for Kids (Dane County CASA and Canopy Center).  We love to support and donate to this wonderful organization helping strengthen families and support children impacted by trauma and adversity.  We didn't even win the bid but Chef Mark and Brian were so gracious to give two dinner parties.  Lucky us, because it was amazing.  Thanks to Chef Mark and Brian, you guys sure know how to throw a dinner party and gave us all an evening to remember.  It was fun having you hang out in my kitchen.  You're welcome anytime!

Wine Pairing for each course.

Local Meat and cheese from Bavaria Sausage

          Tony & Margaret
          Ed and MaryAnn
          Megan & Ryan
          Kevin and Dawn

      Chef Mark and Brian

scene 1

scene 2

scene 3

scene 4


As wonderful as dinner was, one of the highlights for me was Mark and Brian washed all the dishes and left my kitchen spotless!  THANKS!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Cod with Tomato and Herb Butter

This dish is as beautiful as it is delicious.  The cod is flaky and tender, then when you top it with this tomato herb butter sauce it takes it over the top.  This recipe comes from the blog Little Broken.  You'll have to check out her blog for her step by step photos of this recipe.  

I'm going to try this flavorful tomato herb butter sauce on salmon and chicken soon.  So GOOD!

Tomato and Herb Butter
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling the cod
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (I used chicken broth)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt (I used 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt)
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, sliced (I used salted butter so I cut down the the salt)
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped herbs (basil, parsley, chives, cilantro), plus extra for garnish (I used 1 Tblsp. of each basil parsley and cilantro)
  • 2 - 2¼ pounds fresh cod fillets, cut into 6-8 oz. portions* (I used only 4 portions because you'll want enough butter sauce for each serving)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper

Tomato and Herb Butter
  1. In a small saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté shallot for 3 minutes, then add garlic for 1 minute or just until fragrant, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, sea salt, red pepper flakes, and sugar. Simmer, uncovered, for 15-17 minutes or until tomatoes break down and release their juices and liquid has almost evaporated. ( While this is cooking prepare cod and put in the oven so both are done around the same time.)
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat (I turned the sauce pan to low) and stir in the butter and fresh herbs. The herb butter should be velvety. Cover and keep warm while the cod is baking.
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Drizzle the bottom of a casserole dish lightly with olive oil. You want a dish big enough to fit the cod in a single layer.
  3. Pat dry the cod really well and place in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the top lightly with olive oil and squeeze of fresh lemon. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 15-18 minutes or until easily flaked. Baking time will depend on the thickness of the cod.
  4. Remove from the oven (I drained off the extra liquid in the pan so it wouldn't thin out the butter sauce) and evenly spread the tomato butter over the cod. Cover back with aluminum foil and let stand at room temperature for 1-2 minutes before serving. You just want all the flavors to come together.
  5. Garnish with fresh chopped herbs, if desired, and serve immediately.
Serves 4

I like to serve this with a rice pilaf. 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Peach, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

When summer produce is at its peak this simple salad is summer on a plate! I just got a box of 12 peaches at Costco and they are so good, firm but ripe, juicy and so sweet.  Perfect for this salad as each ingredient needs to be at it's best.  I also got some wonderful heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market that taste like a tomato should taste.  I will be making this again real soon as the peaches are ripe and ready.  
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil *
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar *
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt, divided
1 heirloom or vine ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 ripe peaches - halved, pitted, and sliced
4 leaves fresh basil, torn
4oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced and quartered *

1.  Whisk olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and 1 pinch flaked salt together in a bowl until dressing is smooth.
2.  Alternate tomato slices, peach slices and mozzarella slices in layers on a platter.  Sprinkle salt and basil on top. Drizzle dressing over salad and serve.

Serves 2-4

*Instead of the oil and balsamic vineagar dressing, you can use a balsamic glaze.
*You can use burrata instead of fresh mozzarella